Thursday Roundup: A Long Bus Ride

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Yes, the Obama administration rejected the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. 

We should remind Yonder readers of how this story unfolded. Environmentalists have opposed the pipeline, which would carry oil sands oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast, but the real stumbling block came in Nebraska, where ranchers said the pipeline shouldn’t cross the Ogallala Aquifer. 

The Nebraska legislature reacted and in a special session demanded that the pipeline be rerouted. The company, TransCanada, agreed. Nebraska and the U.S. State Department will do an environmental review of the new route when it is chosen.

That will take some time. Meanwhile, Congress demanded that President Obama approve or disapprove the Keystone permit within 60 days. In other words, Congress (or, rather, Republicans in Congress) wanted the administration to approve a pipeline that didn’t even have a settled route.

This is all politics now, an issue Republicans can use to club Obama with for the next few months. Meanwhile, Obama is only doing what the Nebraska legislators and Nebraska ranchers (hardly radical environmentalists) wanted him to do. 

DTN has a good story on how this is playing out. The news service quotes retiring Sen. Ben Nelson, the Nebraska Democrat:

“I believe the root cause of today’s decision is that the state of Nebraska didn’t work proactively with TransCanada years ago in determining a pipeline route through Nebraska that addresses safety and environmental concerns, as other states along the route did,” Nelson said in a written statement.

“After three years of inaction, the state of Nebraska just two months ago passed legislation to determine the route through Nebraska, recognizing that any deadline would be arbitrary. Since a new route hasn’t been announced, the process of state and public review hasn’t even begun. As a result, it would be premature to approve the project when Nebraskans don’t even know where the new route will be.”

• The Council of Foundations is hosting a Twitter chat this afternoon about rural philanthropy. It will run from 2-3 p.m. Eastern using the hashtag #PhilChat. The Council says:

“Participants are invited to share their experiences related to rural philanthropy, and to join Chris Beck of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship’s Ahmet Binerer, Council Interim President and CEO Jeff Clarke, and other rural philanthropy leaders to answer the question: Is Philanthropy Succeeding in Rural America? If so, what is working best, If not, what needs to change?” 

• Okay, okay…Mitt Romney didn’t beat Rick Santorum by 8 votes in the Iowa caucuses. Santorum won by 24 votes, according to the latest tally

But wait, results from 8 precincts are still missing….

• California has cut funding for school transportation, and that could be a disaster for the school district in Death Valley, the L.A. Times reports

The Death Valley Unified School Districts spends about $3,500 a year for each of its 60 students on transportation. Bus rides can last two hours. The state, however, is cutting all school transportation funding for the rest of this fiscal year.

Plenty of rural school districts are in trouble with this decision, but none more than in Death Valley.

• A state senate subcommittee in Iowa voted to throw out a state administrative rule banning the use of lead shot for hunting mourning doves, the Des Moines Register reports

Save the Post Office has a good column from Mark Jamison, the postmaster in Webster, North Carolina. Here’s a sample: 

What (Postmaster General Patrick) Donahoe offered was a vision that has become popular among a small segment of the American political class.   It is a vision of an impotent public sector, a downsized, out-sourced, minimum-wage work force, and it shows a complete disregard for infrastructure.   It is a view of globalization come full circle, America as a third-world country….

The plans espoused by the management of the Postal Service appear less the articulation of a successful outcome, the re-envisioning of a successful business model, than they are the actions a vulture capital firm might undertake when dissolving a business by extracting whatever value might exist and leaving the rest to “creative destruction.”  No one from the Postal Service has yet offered a picture of what a successful outcome might be.  Actually that isn’t terribly astonishing since it would be awfully hard to describe success when your every action is built towards taking the enterprise apart.

• Organic farmers pay a surcharge for federal crop insurance, and that is limiting expansion in the organic markets, writes Alan Bjerga in Bloomberg. 

 

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